It had been two years on 3rd July since our son and his wife lost their twin boys – Samuel and Liam, but I have to admire the wonderful way my daughter-in-law Belinda keeps their memory alive. She has a photo of the two of them after their birth which sits amongst the family photos and she likes to commemorate them every year by visiting their little graves at the Beenleigh Cemetery.
So yesterday morning we gathered there: Dan and Belinda with Isaac (3) and Maddie (8 months) together with both sets of grandparents. Grandma Pat explained to young Isaac that his baby brothers were buried here … that they were in Heaven with baby Jesus.
Isaac knows all about these things as Belinda’s mother has a wonderful gift of teaching him all that he needs to know about spiritual matters. He obliged by nodding his head in all the right places; he appeared to understand.
Afterwards, we went to Belinda’s parents home nearby for morning tea. It wouldn’t be a commemoration without a little feasting … even if it is only morning tea, albeit a lovely one. All of this reminded me of what I had written in my Poppy Journal on Wednesday on the anniversary of their birth. Let me share it with you here:
Wed 3rd July 2013
It was two years ago today since our twin boys were born at 24 weeks of pregnancy. Tiny Liam did not survive the birth. Little Samuel lived for eight days and we were full of hope for his survival but it was not to be.
He died, too weak to recover from a brain hemorrhage he had at birth. Poor boy. It was for the best as he would have been physically disabled if he had survived. Now, he and Liam are at peace and on their second birthday, they play in the fields of Heaven looking down on us all with a protective eye.
Grief is a strange thing. None of us can escape it. Some seem to suffer its affects more than others, but all of us have to learn to navigate our way through it as best we can. Geoff and I found it particularly hard to recover from losing the twins in 2011 and we almost got lost in our grief.
Geoff, because he had lost his niece Leone (5) and three-month-old nephew Peter, when they drowned together with their mother, in the 1950s. Two tiny white coffins is what Geoff remembers of his first loss and with the twins: again that awful memory of two tiny white coffins.
For me, it was the memory of my four little ones lost by miscarriage at various weeks of pregnancy: 8-11 weeks. No white coffins to show they existed on this earth. No cemetery plaque to tell the world they were MY babies and that I bore them … and I loved them … and I lost them.
No names to acknowledge their coming. Only grief at losing them and grief over not acknowledging them. Too many tears have been shed by me over the past 40 years because of their loss!
Amazing really because they were so tiny when they slipped away.
I know this because I saw my first miscarried child (foetus) in a bottle of brine stored on a crude shelf near some toilets at the Mater Hospital, marked with my name ‘ROSS’ and the date. I am glad I saw this, because it gave flesh and blood to my little one … so perfectly formed.
Thinking back now, I understand how this baby’s little life was validated for me at that time . I was meant to see it, for later there would be three more loses and no evidence of their existence; no ability to outwardly grieve for my loss.
Grief? Yes, I have some understanding of it, but it has taken me forty years to write about my grief over losing my babies … and not feel guilty about it when I did. ”
So this dear folks, is my little musings on grief over losing children. And it is strange how I somehow felt guilty about expressing grief over my miscarriages … as if I was a ‘woos’ for feeling sad when so many other people lost babies and children who had died at an older age … and there was the implication that I should have been grateful that I had lost mine early.
Losing my babies so early did not make them less ‘real’. No. It simply meant that there was no avenue in which I could legitimately express my grief; there was no ‘rite of passage’ for me.
Yet, here I am today – 40 years after I saw my little one on the hospital shelf – writing about it. Perhaps, this is my ‘Write of Passage’ and I am now telling the world that my four little ones were here … and I loved them … and I lost them.
And to end this post I have to say that Geoff and I did eventually get over our grief at losing our twin boys. You see, we now have a little granddaughter who came last November and healed our hurt, not that we will ever forget our little boys. Time does heal.
We now look with hope to the future … where I believe we will again meet all our darling lost little children … in Heaven. We remember:
Leone and Peter Ross (Geoff’s niece/nephew)
Our four little miscarried Ross babies
Samuel and Liam Ross (Bel and Dan’s twins)
To read more on how to minister to women who have suffered miscarriage: http://www.atcmag.com